Navy officials announced unprecedented disciplinary actions Wednesday against six civilian employees for lax oversight of government research spending at Stanford University.
Among those actions is the reassignment of the national director for all university contracts with the Office on Naval Research (ONR), sources said.
A Navy investigation found that "flawed administration--a lack of adequate management controls and oversight" by ONR employees contributed to Stanford's unmerited reimbursement for research costs from the government, according to a Navy statement.
Four of the disciplined employees are at ONR headquarters in Virginia and two are at regional field offices, presumably on the West Coast. One of the employees at the headquarters was given notice of a pay cut and is pending reassignment to a new Navy job; four others were given letters of reprimand or a lesser warning, and action against the sixth is still under review. ONR spokesman Norm Hanson declined to identify the staffers, citing federal privacy rules.
However, the Navy simultaneously announced that Dennis Padilla, an ONR official stationed in Monterey, has been named acting director of ONR's national university business affairs office. The director's post had been held by Thomas Dolan, and several knowledgeable sources confirmed that Dolan is the employee being reassigned. ONR oversees all federal research grants at Stanford and 38 other schools nationally.
Congressional probers allege that Stanford may have overcharged the government as much as $200 million over the past decade for indirect research costs such as utilities and libraries and for such questionable items as a yacht and antique furniture. Stanford has refunded more than $1 million and faces sharply reduced government support for research in the future.